Deputy Labor Leader Calls For an "Overhaul" of Gambling Licenses

Jun 17

London, England - The Labour party’s deputy leader, Tom Watson, has proclaimed that gambling operators should have to reapply for their licenses in order to acquire the “privilege” of operating in the UK.

Watson, who also functions as the MP for West Bromwich East and shadow secretary of state for the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, stressed his opinions in the parliament’s online magazine entitled “The House.”

He said that Britain’s gambling problem had transformed into a “public health crisis,” and that much of the damage associated with gambling can be seen with high stakes at fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs).

As a result, bettors were often finding themselves deep in debt or were entertaining suicidal thoughts. Although Watson is not calling for a ban on gambling, he asserts that something needs to be done to help alleviate this nationwide problem.

“I want to see fairness in the market, consistency in legislation, and a reduction of harm, he said. Instead, I see the opposite. This is particularly true when it comes to online gambling,” said Watson.

For Watson, his greatest worry lies in what is called white labels. As he explains, these are collaborations with gambling companies that make it possible for them to function in the UK without having an actual license to do so. One of these white labels is SportPesa, a firm based in Kenya. It’s able to function in the UK simply because it has aligned itself with a licensee organization that is based on the Isle of Man.

Yet, as the deputy Labour leader emphasizes, while these white label firms are functioning in the UK, they aren’t doing anything to help allay the issue of problem gambling. As a matter of fact, Watson said that white labels donated a mere £50 ($62) last year to GambleAware — a UK charity that is geared at helping to tackle gambling-related harm.

Saying that a UK gambling license should mean credibility and trust, Watson is calling for a revamp in how the system works.

“It should not be seen as a platform for overseas operators to use the reputation of British sport as a marketing tool for their own domestic audience, whereby the benefits of the UK market are enjoyed, but nothing is given back to address the harm that is caused,” Watson added.

To achieve this, Watson says that licensed operators should need to reapply for the “privilege of operating in the British market.” However, if they fail to show the measures they have established to keep gambling-related harm from happening, then, Watson said that they should be slapped with a fine and the removal of their license.

The subject of betting-related harm is a contentious subject. In many jurisdictions, steps are already being taken to help alleviate the problem but the fact of the matter is it’s not something that will be fixed right away any time soon.

Unfortunately, while some measures endorse responsible betting, a lot more work still needs to be done, work that can only be properly achieved when governments and gambling operators work hand in hand to nip this problem.